Declared unsafe 3 years ago, Gurugram’s only bus stand continues to operate
Established in 1959, Gurugram’s sole bus stand comprises three structures — an administrative block, a bus terminal and a workshop for maintaining vehicles — all of which the PWD declared ‘unsafe’, after a safety assessment survey in 2015.gurgaon Updated: Jul 24, 2018 14:37 IST
Three years after Gurugram’s sole bus stand was declared structurally unsafe by the Public Works Department (PWD), it continues to operate in the absence of proper maintenance, with few safety measures in place.
The upkeep of the bus stand, located in Sector 12, has been affected for the last two years. “Despite the building being found weak, little funding has been provided toward repair and nothing toward day-to-day maintenance,” said Rajesh Kumar, the head clerk at the bus stand.
Established in 1959, the bus stand comprises three structures — an administrative block, a bus terminal and a workshop for maintaining vehicles — all of which the PWD declared ‘unsafe’, after a safety assessment survey in 2015.
Meanwhile, the flow of passengers has been on the rise, exposing more people to the potential dangers of a mishap. “Around 50,000 to 60,000 people make intracity, interdistrict and interstate journeys from here each day,” said traffic manager Kirpal Singh.
Commuters are serviced by about 1,500 buses which ply daily, but are not sufficient to meet the high passenger volume.
Despite being a major transport hub, the Gurugram bus stand has received only Rs1,16,152 towards repair in the last three years. This figure was revealed by the Haryana Transport Department in January, in response to an RTI filed by Gurugram-based activist Harinder Dhingra. “I requested for information because Gurugram, despite its ‘Millennium City’ tag, does not have a proper bus stand for its majority population,” Dhingra said, adding that the repair costs haven’t sufficed to fix the problem.
The RTI reply also mentioned that the premises were declared as “kandam” (expired).
The main bus stand is now partially cordoned off and the administrative block was relocated to a nearby building (which was originally meant to serve as a residential quarter for Haryana Roadways’ employees) in 2016. Ticket windows and inquiry desks now operate out of a temporary shed. The workshop also continues to operate with a refurbished roof, installed in 2016.
Gaurav Antil, general manager of the bus stand, said these measures reflect the prompt action taken by Haryana Roadways in ensuring people’s safety. “Whatever vulnerabilities were found have been addressed,” Antil said.
However, a spot visit by a Hindustan Times team on Monday revealed that all areas of the bus stand are easily accessible to the public, including the parts that have been declared unsafe. Even parts that had been initially cordoned off can be accessed from other routes. The building continues to house a police station and official meetings are still held in the old administrative block.
“There is no space in the residential block to hold meetings,” said Kumar.
There is also no waiting room at the bus stand, since they were closed due to the safety risk. Instead, travellers now bide their time in an outdoor waiting area that is attached to the main structure, and is shaded by a thick, concrete parapet. The lack of upkeep is visible, as the concrete in many places has eroded, exposing the steel bars. At night, travellers and drifters who have nowhere else to sleep take refuge under this parapet.
“A few warning posters had been put up in 2015, but no other intimation has been given since,” said Joginder, a bus conductor who wished to be identified by only his first name.
Workers and mechanics employed by Haryana Roadways have also complained of the potential dangers. “They have replaced the roof of our shed, but what if the walls come down? The roof will be on our head,” said Om Prakash Yadav, state chairman of the Sanyukth Karmachari Sangh, a union representing Haryana Roadways’ workers.
“The administration has been shifted to a safe location, but the labourers are still working in a potentially dangerous structure,” Yadav said.
Kirpal Singh, traffic manager at the bus stand, said, “I don’t think this depot has caught up with Gurugram’s reputation of being a world-class city. There are problems of maintaining order among passengers, of maintaining the buses and above all, the risk of the building itself being unsafe.”
Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Sunday instructed authorities to find an alternative site for a new bus stand. Khattar also recommended that the new bus stand be established on a public-private partnership (PPP) model.
According to Antil, a five-acre plot of land near Rajiv Chowk has been identified for a new depot. “We have also brought on board the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS) as a consultant for the project,” Antil said.
The new bus stand, which was first proposed three years ago, will be built by a private concessionaire and then maintained for 15 years. The final terms and conditions of the tender is yet to be decided.
First Published: Jul 24, 2018 13:04 IST